Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Swimming Lessons

We went down
to the grey river that
runs through
the middle of the city
and I decided to take
all my clothes off
and go for a swim.

We had to climb
down a chainlink fence
and over some rocks
and push a baby
stroller and toilet
seat out of the way.

The police came
while he was trying
to follow me
into the river.
He had his shirt off
and he hadn't shaved
for three days,
so they were sure
he was a terrorist
or at least some kind
of marginal street capitalist
with too many parking tickets.

When I pulled myself
out of the water,
my teeth were chattering
like ice in a glass,
clink, clink,
and I had to comb
a condom out of
my hair. I was
mad he left me
alone like that
and I haven't seen
him since, though
sometimes he sends
me letters and asks
me why I won't come
visit him in jail.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Sunday Night And

I imagined that you
would be sucking my
toes by now, but I'm
alone with my cat
who just stinks
and puts more stink
in the corner,
and I think about the hour
I spent sitting on
the edge of the bathtub
trimming my toenails
and painting them
with that new
cheap polish that
I got at the drugstore
where they always
look at me funny,
like I'm going to steal
a Mother's Day Card
or a Birthday Card
or a bottle of pills, and
my toenails sparkle
like flaming batons
as I wave my foot in time
to the music of the TV
commercial and
isn't it funny
how a room can
seem so empty
even when there's
so many things in it.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Year 12

A yellow wall full of framed photos. In the center
frame, a pair of scissors. Underneath the framed
scissors, a row of three carving knives with neon
green plastic handles. Underneath that, to the
right: a smiling, plump woman with short gray
hair holds up a very large triangular knife. She
holds the knife in a fist raised above her shoulder.
To the left: a simple serrated blade with a wooden
handle on a dark blue background. Next to
that , a small pair of pinking shears, ornately
framed, a cherub dancing at each corner.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Dating a Drunk

    the perpetual present tense and lists
kissing an ashtray
    kissing a gin bottle
inserting a wet thumb into his neck,
its neck, getting stuck at the knuckle

        give up
            the idea of a cure,
the talking cure, the wincing cure,
the cure of rose bushes and long thorns
used for whipping, cold water, then hot

think of the physics, suction, vacuum,
gravity         blood flow
spills necessarily climb up the headboard

small bodies are drawn
to large bodies of water      
        thirsty around midnight you open his
cupboards while he's sleeping, the spigot stuck

the cupboards of his lungs
a wheeze of old lacquer and small slow beetles
something knocking irregularly
                       against the back wall

at 2am you take out his organs,
try to clean them with paper towels
          they curl and sigh in your  palms

the different shapes that glass can take:
shards,      shots,       windows,       globes,       cups,      pints,
bottles,  the different shapes this argument can take

the old accident, the spine knocked along the concrete
motorcycle treads along his scalp  

weaving feelers in the air, saturated  
    shoes on the wrong feet or in the wrong century

lips like a sloppy fist but still you
push      less resistance to your fists

I'm not in this week,
    he says as he looks at himself
in the mirror of your face, leave a message

you can smell him from the next room

the lights multiply and shout     you enter his skin
            through the cracks in his armpits
    the color of bronze paint, dirty dishwater, hotel room carpets

drowned ship
        full of old pocket knives, costume jewelry,  
full of diet coke and whiskey,   sour

Friday, April 11, 2008

Landscape at Night with Bed and Fire

Hair caught on my tongue, I sing into
your ear, my lips so quiet, so close,

they are signing with my breath the language
under kneecaps, under ribs, under fingernails.

The room shudders, a bedful of red snakes;
the room stills, a bedful of drowned plates.

Low murmurs from our palms, as if we
had throats in our wrists, and you drift towards

the ceiling, splayed, smoky, while the curtains
flutter and blacken, break into iridescent

loose sparks, spill out our window onto the dead
in lines out on the lawn, waiting to enter.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Evidence of The Divine

the way a woman's hair feels
when it hangs over the seat
in front of you on the bus

the way the leaves taste
when you lean over the fence
of your neighbor's garden
and steal from the mint bush

the first time you see a girl's
naked calves on the subway
this spring

the way you can
tell your lover's dancing
in the other room when the door's closed,
the way the light shifts in patches: dark then bright

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Obscenity: a User’s Manual

    A blue gap-toothed comb.

My patent
    leather heels, dark and vicious as mirrors.

Cabbage roses, faded, stretched.
    The hem unraveling.

        I attach
            the leather cuffs reeking  of
    saddles and silverware to my bed posts.

After dark, the women with hands
        tucked into short fur coats
clack up and down the street.  They
    carry the reflected light of neon
in their hair.  It is your job, he says, to envy them.

    In the store, the women’s faces
        behind the counter.   Very pale,
        attempting to smile.  Often they
are busy in one corner
            holding an instrument
    and explaining its use to a customer.

There might be a key somewhere.  If
    there is, I swallow it.

Stuttering, whispering.  A small start when
    the bell on the shop door tinkles.

        I stuff
    the contraption in the bottom
            of my closet.  It has a stinging
                        smell, like a lemon
    rind held too close to your nose.

A spot on the center
    of the chair cushion.

A tug on my earlobe with his teeth.

A row of recently cleaned slippers
        by the bed.

The way he wants me to
    talk while we’re at it,
    to tell him things that happen on fishing ships
when the men have been
        at sea a long time.

The fishscales,  I say,
        get caught in their beards.

        A cup of old coffee,
    reheated, red letters on the rim.